Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Vegetables, vegetables and more vegetables

I was so excited to attend the first horticultural meeting this year!  I love vegetable gardening - there is really nothing like produce picked fresh from the garden.  Eating from my garden is one of my favorite parts of summer.

Cameron Dolson shared a wealth of information from his years of growing vegetables.  I will share a few of his suggestions here.  Mr. Dolson was kind enough to leave notes with us, so if you are a member and would like a copy please contact Brenda Speers.

He broke vegetable growing into 6 parts
1) Location 2) When to plant 3) What to plant and how 4) Harvesting 5) Autumn clean-up 6) Maintenance

Location
- A garden needs at least 6 hours of sun
- Try to stay away from trees (roots and shade issues)
- An area that drains well (you don't want to put your garden where water lays in the spring)
- Consider where your water source will be - Gardens need up to 1 inch of rain per week ( A 4x8 plot works out to about 20 gallons/week)

When to Plant
- Plant by the weather rather than by the calendar
- Use a soil thermometer to determine the soil temperature.  When it reaches 10C you can plant peas and potatoes, when it reaches 16C you can plant everything else. (you also want to take into consideration the last frost)

Planting and Harvest
He reminded us that each year certain vegetables will do extremely well, while others may not. This is Mother Nature, and it shouldn't discourage us from planting a vegetable that did poorly last year.

He recommends getting new seeds each year to be safe.  Crop rotation each year is also important to cut down on disease and nutrient loss.  If possible plant moisture loving plants near each other (potatoes, peas, beets, carrots)

Tomatoes
- He recommend buying young plants and a book specifically about growing tomatoes
- Plant them 30" apart
- Suggested variety - Sweet Million
- Stake with Lee Valley Tomato Spirals Click here to see them
- As tomatoes like heat, they thrive up against walls
- Harvest - When the tomatoes are starting to ripen, check them every day

Beans
- Better to plant in a single long row rather than several short rows beside each other as they need good air circulation to prevent mold.
- Need full sun, don't plant them where they will be shaded by other plants
- Plant the seeds with the eye facing up they will come up faster this way
- Harvest - Pick every day, but don't touch the foliage when it is wet as this could cause mold.  Harvest could last for up to a month

Peas
- Cool weather crop - they don't like hot summer days
- Try the Lincoln homesteader variety
- Use a 3' chicken wire "fence" between two row of peas to let them climb up to keep them off the ground
- Harvest - Start producing early in July and continues for a month.  Check daily for plump pods.

Carrots
- Plant very close to the surface
- While you are waiting from them to come up, check the surface often. If there is a thin crust, put a little water on the row to soften the dirt to allow the seedlings to push through.

Beets
- Very easy to grow

Radish and Lettuce
- Don't like hot weather, can plant them in between things to shelter them from the hot sun
- Do multiple plantings during the summer
- Suggested variety - Early Scarlet Globe
- Harvesting lettuce - pick often and replant
- Harvesting Radish - usually 21 days after planting, can be replanted

Corn
- Likes heat
- a square block of corn is better that a couple of rows
- not the best crop to grow if you are short on space and time

Squash
-Plant them at the edge of the garden and let them grow across the lawn
- Suggested varieties - Butternut and acorn
- Harvest - Leave as long as possible but don't let them freeze

Potatoes
- Buy new seed each year
- Plant them early
- Seed potatoes can be cut into pieces as long as each piece has an eye and is no smaller than a golf ball.
- Suggested variety - Red Chieftain
- Harvest - Leave as long as possible, dig when vines have withered up.

General tips for autumn clean up and maintenance
- Water early in the morning to prevent scorching (from afternoon watering) and mold (from evening watering)
- A leaf shredder, a chipper and a rear tine tiller (no vibration) are recommended for serious gardening.
- He has found that tilling leaves into the garden in the fall has prevented potato bugs, and oak leaves seem to work the best
- Never ever work clay soil when it is wet - you'll end up with rock hard lumps and chunks!!
- Adding compost builds fiber and helps balance the soil temperature
- Add peat moss if your soil is too sandy
- If you have never had a vegetable garden before - start with 100 square feet.

Hope this encourages everyone to add at least one vegetable to your garden this year!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

First Meeting in 2012

Welcome Back!!!

Our first meeting for 2012 is fast approaching.

Join us Tuesday, March 20th at 7:30pm to hear Cameron Dolson speak about Growing Vegetables.  The meeting starts at 7:30pm in the New Horizon's Room at the Mel Lloyd Centre.

2012 is a special year for the Shelburne and District Horticultural Society.  We are celebrating our 50th Anniversary !!!  Click here for the details of the celebration.

Click here to see the upcoming meetings.
Click here to see the upcoming events in the area.